Saturday, 25 June 2011

Yet more Great Crested Newts!

Fylde ARG member Dave seems to have a knack for sniffing out Great Crested Newts at the moment. These two beauties were found by accident; after taking a local naturalist to see a new colony of Bee Orchids he decided, on a whim, to have a quick peek under a nearby sheet of ply-wood. Last week the sheet had a two Smooth Newts, one with a very pale Palmate Newt-like chin. Today there were these two and several Toads along with a couple of yearling Frogs under it.
You can record any sightings of amphibians and reptiles in the Fylde on the South Lancashire ARG website (linked in side bar) or email us directly and we can forward them for you - all records are important ; we know more about the distribution and numbers of the rare Great Crested Newt than we do of the much more commonplace Frogs, Toads and Smooth Newts, records of reptiles are particularly welcome as there are so few in Fylde.
Members of FARG will be attending the Civic Trust event in Blackpool town centre (St John's Square, or indoors at the Winter Gardens if weather poor) next Saturday, 2nd July. Please drop by and say hello if you can.

Monday, 20 June 2011

How many frogs?

A picture was received today from a friend of FARG of the frogs in her garden pond recently.

How many frogs do yu think are in the picture?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Pond life - it's not all about amphibians.

FARG member Alan took these pictures at his garden pond this week.4-spotted Chaser dragonfly

A Water Scorpion showing its breathing snorkel and ferocious beak-like mouthparts

A mating pair of Azure Damselflies. They are on a leaf of Potamogeton, pond weed, which shows the characteristic semi-circular cut-outs made by a Brown China Mark caterpillar - a rather nonedescript moth whose larvae is aquatic. It cuts the shape from the edge of the leaf then sticks it to the underside of the leaf with silk and lives protected from view in there - a bit like an underwater sleeping bag.

Finally we do have an amphibian for you...a male Palmate Newt. Please be careful when recording the small newt species as although they are much less common than Smooth Newts Palmate Newts do occur in the Fylde. Females, and non-breeding males are more difficult to tell apart - look for a flesh coloured unspotted (or very few fine spots) chin, Smooth Newts will have a yellowish often well spotted chin. If in doubt get a pic and send it to us, we'll do our best to ID it for you.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Conservation in action!!!

One of the FARG members is a very experienced reptile specialist and has been involved with the conservation of Sand Lizards for sometime. So much so that he has been given a licence to breed them at home for the various current 'local' release schemes, North and Wes Wales and the Sefton coast. Members of FARG, BEAT Naturewatch, Fylde Naturalists Society and the Lancashire & Cheshire Fauna Society were invited to see his newly completed vivarium...a real labour of love involving the removal of over a ton of soil and bringing in almost 150 bags of sand!
Stars of the show were the two male and four female lizards. Looking at the picture you can see that one of the females is gravid with eggs. It is expected that the first clutch of eggs will be laid shortly. These will then be transfered to an incubator to given them optimum conditions for hatching and give the young lizards the best start in life. This involves finding a constant supply of live food from the garden. Bought in food could be used but as it is usually reared on little more than oats it is lackng in essential nutrients and vitams so crickets etc are kept for a while in a tank with fresh dandelions, carrots etc so that they absorb the essential minreals from them. The crickets etc can be dusted with a propriety vitamin mix but unless they are eaten straight away this rubs off as they crawl across the sand.
With good sumer weather a second clutch of eggs could be possible.
We wish Ray every success wth this scheme.

One becomes two

FARG member Dave was looking for Barn Owls and found a Great Crested Newt instead. The following day after still not seeing the Barn Owl he showed another naturalist where the newt had been and to their surprise a second Great Crested Newt had joined it.
Both have been recorded for the Lancashire Amphibian & Reptile Atlas project.